What A Tangled Web We Weave

I have never taken a martial arts class. Well, not in a classroom setting. I have, however, done some very ninja-like moves in the middle of my pest control route. I know ALL of you starting to smile.

Huntsman Spider

Spiders and humans have to co-exist. Both species have beneficial qualities. I know. I know… some of you will disagree. Michelle, hold your opinion until the end.

Web-Sites

Have you ever wondered why spiders pick particular places to build webs? Me too. It seems like they always put them within my line of sight…even though I never see them. I don’t have arachnophobia, but it’s a nuisance to have to pull spider webs off of my head and face.

I did some homework to find out how Mr. and Mrs. Spider picks the perfect location to build a food catching net. I was pretty certain that those locations weren’t just random, but carefully selected. And… I was correct.

Mama Wolfie

Different species of spiders build different types of webs. Not all spiders build webs, but they have the ability to spin silk. One thing is true – all web site building is determined by environmental factors. Webs are built to catch prey. Even the spider has to eat. It might not be equivalent to humans grilling a steak, but protein makes for a strong existence.

Green Lynx Spider

SPIDER / MAN

Humans and spiders really do need to coexist. Those 8-legged beings are helping with pest control. They are in or near structures because there is an abundance of insect food for them. I know, I know… I am supposed to rid properties of bugs. Well, if you will let me do my IPM razzle dazzle, with a little bit of magic insecticide potion, I can control those little bits of protein that spiders call food. If there is no food, there are no spiders.

Arigope

STRONGER THAN STEEL

I try to get some exercise in a few time a week, but nothing compares to some of the ninja-like moves I have done because of my walking through a masses of spider webs. I liken it to fighting my way out of a paper bag. A single strand of webbing is actually stronger than a strand of steel it’s same size.

On the days I don’t wear a hat, I get to clean webbing out of my ponytail, off of my safety glasses and my face. I often chew gum, so I have eaten a few webs, too.

Orb Weaver

SPIDERS DON’T HAVE ANTENNA

The husband uses a 4-wheeler at his bow club to set up targets. This 33 acre plot of land has quite the array of insects, bees, and of course, spiders. He and his bow and arrow buddies got tired of spider webs being in their sight path, so they installed web-catchers on the front of all the ATVs. They are made out of old reflector poles and look like antennas. My first thought was, “That looks dumb.” But it’s really genius! No more spider web spearmint gum for me… and I am OK with that.

Braly says, “Papa’s 4-wheeler no spiders.”

Red. Solo. Cup.

Don’t over think the title of this post. You can sing the Toby Keith song if you want. I sort of did when I wrote it. I grew up in Oklahoma, the same as Toby, but this post really has nothing to do with a drinking song, but more about how my business came to exist.

The Sun Rises & The Sun Sets

When I decided it was time to become my own boss, I was concerned that it was going to be a challenge. I had some doubts about how to form a business entity. I read books, websites, and other publications to understand the process. I am thankful for my attorney. I gave him a scribbled handwritten paper with my proposed company wishlist. After a couple of hour’s worth of back and forth questions, a company name and a corporate structure were determined.

I signed all the documentation to form a limited liability company. The attorney submitted the necessary paperwork to the appropriate state and federal channels. On June 8, 2020, I started as a solo pest control owner/operator with my business, Horizon Pest Solutions, LLC. And so, a new day begins… every day…pest free.

My Logo

It’s All About The Truck

I chose a business name, and now I needed a truck to get myself, and the necessary supplies, to the customer. I searched all the local car dealerships for my perfect conference room on wheels. I kept thinking about how my competitors had white vehicles. I needed to be different, as I have never been one to blend in with the crowd. I am a huge fan of Nissan branded autos, and found one that was just my style. RED!

While other pest control businesses blend in with traffic, my big red truck is like a stoplight. It makes people take notice. One customer said the logo, and other information, on my truck is easy to read – even at 70mph highway speeds. Unwanted insect activity makes a potential customer get “red in the face” mad. Well, now they can associate this reaction with calling “the sunny company with the red truck.”

My Friends Are The Reason I Drink

I know I said this wasn’t about a drinking song, but hang with me. Let me explain.

I have a best friend, but I also have some of the best friends. I can count on all of them for nonsense conversation. They calm me whenever I’m having a meltdown, give me a shoulder when I need to cry, or flick my head when I should just chill.

This behavior from friends is all because they care about me, as a living, breathing human, and because they know I am sometimes a handful. All that said, I am lucky they are all part of my life.

This cup was really the inspiration for me starting my own business.

A friend gave it to me when she knew I needed some encouragement, even when she had her own struggles. I’m not sure that Randi knew what kind of impact this would have on my life and career, but I owe gratitude. It’s my favorite drink holder. It’s had many a beverage in it, but the ultimate message remains the same. I Believe In You. I know she’s not the only friend who wishes me well, but she gave me this inspiration at exactly the right time.

Not The End, A Beginning

As I continue to drive my RED service truck as a SOLO owner/operator, I will continue to fill my CUP with the knowledge that my friends continue to be a blessing.

Changing Jobs Can Change Lives

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why am I doing this job? Am I making a difference?” Is your choice of work just “work”, or do you love what you are doing? How did you choose your job?

My love of insects wasn’t always love. I really had to grow into it. My first insect experience as a kid was using a magnifying glass to burn ants. (Don’t lie, you’ve tried this) My siblings and I thought it would be super cool to watch those little beings explode into a fire ball. It never happened.

I often wonder if that’s how fire ants came to be in existence. Damn, karma.

DO THE HOMEWORK

I am well versed in pesticide application for stored product pests. When I decided it was time for me to do this pest career solo, I had to do a lot of homework on residential pests. I’m getting better, but still have a ways to go. I have learned how to effectively rid a property of various types of ants. No magnifying glass required.

Trial and error, and many customer callbacks helped to straighten out my learning curve. I am by no means a perfect pro. I am an incomplete work in progress. I know in the pest control industry, one can NEVER stop learning. You will become an obsolete technician, manager, and owner if you forgo the training.

I decided to test for termite certifications. This would probably be against the better judgment of my A.C.E. proctor, Jerry Heath. When I passed the Associate Certified Entomologist exam, the first thing he said to me was, “You passed, but you don’t know a damn thing about ants and termites.” Well, Jerry, I am taking your statement to heart.

I AM CALLED TO HELP

In past posts, I have mentioned that I am a member of social media groups, many of them local to surrounding communities. I was reading posts in one of them, and came across a person in panic mode wanting to know if a spider was a brown recluse. “Yes. No. Can’t tell from this picture,” were the responses. As I zoomed in on this grainy photo, I could faintly see that coveted violin shape.

I responded with, “Definitely a brown recluse. I own this business. Can help if needed.”

The person immediately contacted me. We engaged in a phone conversation…on a Sunday night. Bright and early on Monday morning, I was meeting a new customer, listening to the real fears about spiders and other pests in the home. I explained my process, and when we were both comfortable, treatment began.

CUSTOMER APPRECIATION

It took about an hour to effectively treat this property. Inspection. Knockdown of webbing. Liquid residual. Granular bait. Education for the customer, including the Labels/SDS for the products used.

This customer continued to thank me during the entire service visit. While thank you’s are appreciated, I do this work because I want to help people live calmer, happier, safer, healthier lives. The neighbor even booked an appointment.

BACK TO TERMITES

I did pass the termite testing with a score well above the passing grade. I’m still learning about these Isoptera insects. I’ve got a ways to go.

There Is a Difference

I found this blog post by Cooper Pest in New Jersey. I feel that it explains the difference between an Exterminator and a Pest Control person. Kudos to the writer.


Pest Control vs. Exterminators … What’s the difference?

Posted by: Cooper Pest

What exactly is an exterminator and how does it differ from a pest management professional? Years ago your parents may have been quick to pick up the phone and say “I need these ants exterminated now!” The response was a very chemically invasive treatment that required them to be out of the house for hours, which during that time chemicals were pumped into the walls and the home was “bombed.” In the end, sometimes the treatments worked, but often they didn’t. Even when it worked, the ants often returned because the chemical treatment was just a Band-Aid and not a real solution.

For the longest time, and even still today, the thrill of the kill is what some people want to see when it comes to dealing with unwanted pests. They want to walk into a room that was treated aggressively with chemicals and see a massacre of dead cockroaches belly-up all over the floor. Homeowners may envision a terminator with a backpack filled with chemicals using the spray hose to spray chemicals throughout a home and then watch the bugs falling from the ceiling. That scene is what homeowners envisioned when dealing with various pests in their home.

The definition of exterminate is to “destroy completely,” also associated with the words “kill,” “put to death,” “erase from existence,” etc., hence why the imaginary scene of exterminators seems so profound with homeowners. While the word may suggest eradication of a pest population, rarely does this occur, which is fortunate for all of us because even pests play an important role in the environment and our planet’s ecology. Still we don’t want to see unwanted bugs and critters in our homes either because they have the ability to bite or sting us, can cause disease, damage our homes or belongings, or simply just be upsetting to see. This is where professional pest management comes into play. Pest problems must be managed in a way that keeps them out of our homes while protecting the environment, both inside our homes and in nature.

Exterminators and pest management professionals have several differences, although their goal of eliminating the pests may be similar. Exterminators rely on pesticides to eliminate the unwanted pests, using chemicals that could be more toxic than necessary whereas a pest control professional will focus on why the pests are present and look to alter the conditions that attracted them in the first place. If chemicals become necessary, the pest management professional will use more environmentally friendly products to get rid of the pests. Pest control companies tend to use products that are just as effective on the bugs but have little odor, are much less toxic to humans and pets and are applied in a very targeted fashion. Some treatments even completely eliminate the use of pesticides.  The biggest difference is that pest management professionals look for long-term solutions, rather than simply spraying chemicals to kill the pests you see.

In addition to using less chemicals, pest management companies tend to be more educated in the effective ways to eliminate each specific pest. For instance, at Cooper Pest Solutions, our technicians know precise ways to eliminate unwanted pests, like bed bugs and that treatment protocol isn’t the same as when dealing with another pest such as carpet beetles. Each and every pest has a specific reason for being present and requires a different approach to eliminate it from your home. It’s not a one-size-fits-all treatment procedure. Most pest professionals also receive intensive training to become a technician and obtain additional training throughout their career. As research and technology progress, technicians acquire further training to stay up-to-date on pest management practices with specific pests.

Uhh Huh: What?

WITHOUT POWER

As I am writing this, my area of Kansas is experiencing heavy rain, hail, high winds. We are in a flood and tornado watch. The power is out. So, here I am. Blogging in the dark. The husband texted me from the garage to come help save some baby bunnies from drowning. We found most of them. Where was I going with this?

How many social media pages do you have? 2? 3? 4? Do you skim the headlines or really read each post? Do you sometimes ask yourself “Why is there so much nonsense?”. I am amazed, on a daily basis, that so much misinformation is perceived as truth.

HOME REMEDIES

I found a new gardening chat group on one of my socials. I have managed to keep some house plants alive, and I have designed a pretty awesome flower bed at the front porch. I was looking for tips on the actual garden I had planted.

I did a quick scroll and found a wealth of information. One thing I noticed in those posts: many home remedies for insect control. Certain plants, hot water, garlic, hot pepper flakes, grits, frozen ladybugs were among the ways quoted to help control unwanted insects in a vegetable garden. Are you seriously kidding me?

Neem oil is commonly suggested

Oh, yes. The group participants, and its moderator, were adamant that this was the way to go. When I posted about how I owned a pest control business and that I would be happy to help, I was told to, and I quote, Leave the science out of gardening and pest control. Again: Uhh, what?

INFO FROM A PRO

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to attend an in person seminar about mosquito control. The guest speaker was Stan “The Mosquito Man” Cope. I digested information about effective control methods, species by state, inspection techniques, and I won a bag of candy by correctly answering a question.

Part of the discussion was about the possibility of plants being a deterrent for insect pests. While it is somewhat true that plants can help with garden pest control, the plant itself does very little for managing the pest populations.

The Mosquito Man described a process called maceration. This means “to crush to extract substances”, like crushing plants to get oils. The oils from plants are the substances commonly used in natural or green types of insecticides. Many are declared to be 25b exempt – meaning they are low risk to humans, animals, and health.

Science Is Part Of Pest Control

When choosing to manage, control, eradicate, get rid of, or decimate a pest, science HAS to be part of the equation. The PCO needs to know about insect identification, habits, habitats, lifecycle and mating, biology, food preferences and much more. Control measures for insect and rodent pests depend on knowing the science behind the why, and how.

Treatment processes cannot and should not begin until a proper inspection and ID is completed for your client. I know there are some baseboard jockeys out there. Just a reminder to grab your Sherlock Holmes hat and bag of detective gear to find the scientific answer. There’s a science to keeping unwanted pests at bay. If I remember correctly, a large pest control company used this as a tag line in a TV commercial.

For fun learning with the kids in your life. http://www.pestworldforkids.org